Wednesday, December 28, 2005
What was your highlight of 2005? With so many to choose from, this is not an easy poll. And if your highlight isn't up here, cast a write-in vote by leaving a comment to this post saying what YOUR highlight of the 2005 Yankees season was.
There's been a lot of upheaval in Boston, but come on people, they're still a very good team. Schilling should finally be healthy, and he and Beckett are the guys you want 1-2 in the rotation. Wakefield can still throw the knuckler, and Arroyo is a solid #4-5 starter. And people forget that Clement had an excellent first half last year. If he can keep it going all year next year, the Sox will have some pitching staff.
And Mota is a big addition to the bullpen. Plus, Timlin has shown no signs of slowing down, and if Foulke is healthy, there's no reason he can't return to his '04 form.
The big x-factor is the offense, of course. But Lowell should improve in a hitter's park, Loretta is one of the most underrated players in the game, and Youkilis at first would be a Nick Johnson clone. The question is what they get for Manny. If they get crap like Cliff Floyd and Kaz Matsui, then Boston's in trouble. I'd love to see them trade him for Tejada, and if both players get very unhappy, that just might happen. Whatever it is,Boston has to get another big bat if they trade Manny. And David Ortiz can still beat the Yanks no matter what. Even with Myers or Villone on the hill.
-- Are the Yankees a better team with Damon? No question. But the big question mark will be their starting pitching.
The emergence of Wang, Small, and Chacon, along with RJ's good second half, did a good job of making people forget how bad the starting pitching was for much of the year. Even though Johnson had a good second half, he stunk in the playoffs and isn't getting any younger. Mussina is getting less healthy and more inconsistent as he continues to age. You have no idea what Pavano will give you. Ditto for Jaret Wright. Small looks like a one-year wonder. Wang might get hit with the sophomore jinx. And maybe AL batters will finally figure out how to hit Shawn Chacon.
Those big intra-division games in September will come down to the pitching. And if the Junkees don't have the arms to beat Boston and Toronto, it just might be a Yankee-free October.
-- Thanks to all for voting in the poll. It's very telling how, even in a week where Johnny Damon switched sides in sports' biggest rivalry, A-Schmuck still won out.
Should be a new poll up soon. Check back over the next day or two.
When the Jays got Burnett and Ryan, I was happy to see that there was finally a shift in the AL East's balance of power, but was disappointed that the Jays did not address what I thought was their most pressing need last year: a big bat in the lineup. Without Delgado, nobody scared you in that lineup. Maybe Vernon Wells, and that's being generous.
But now, the Jays haven't looked this solid since the good old days of Henderson, Molitor, and Joe Carter. The rotation is deep; not only do Halladay and Burnett give them a solid 1-2 punch, but the guys in the back of the rotation, Chacin, Towers, and Lilly, are no slouches. Towers quietly put together a solid year, posting a 3.71 ERA. These days, that's very good for a #3 or #4 starter.
And their pen was pretty good last year, too. No-names Frasor, Speier, and Chulk put together some fine numbers. Toronto had a lower bullpen ERA than the Junkees and the Red Sox, and getting B.J. Ryan will just make the pen even better.
And that lineup now looks mighty fine. The lack of a big bopper didn't stop the Jays from scoring the 5th-most runs in the AL in '05. And getting Glaus and Overbay makes them all the better. The only thing I find puzzling is J.P. Riccardi's corner infielder fetish; when you add in Hillenbrand, Koskie, and Hinske, that gives them 5 1B-3B types. Weird. But it does give them leverage to make a trade and perhaps add even more depth.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
So much for all of Brian Cashman's faith in Bubba Crosby. Guess George got in the way, huh? After Kyle Farnsworth couldn't get the Yanks on the back page, the Yanks had to make a splash. So George got his guy in Damon.
So I don't wanna hear anyone complaining about the Mets, or the Blue Jays, or any other team overspending. And I don't want to hear Brian Cashman crying poverty. The Yanks are still the Yanks, after all.
This one sucks, it really does. I said in an earlier post that I was glad the Yanks didn't get Nomar. But now, I'd be happier if they had taken Nomar instead of Damon.
And the Sox need a center fielder. And a shortstop.
A bad day for Yankee-haters. But hey, there have been days like this before. A big Yankee press conference, a big sigh in Red Sox Nation.
And yet, Mike Mussina has been unable to bring this team back to a championship. Neither has Juice-on. Not Shemp. Not Contreras (though a few years later....). Not Sheffield. Not Flush Gordon. Not A-Schmuck. Not Tanyon Sturtze. Not Kevin Brown (ha!). Not Pavano. Not the Big Unit.
So here's hoping Johnny Damon joins the club.
UPDATE: It sucks even more to see Damon's face on the back of all the New York papers. It won't take away from Damon leaving, but Boston has got to get Dave Roberts back. How about trading him straight-up for Wells? Boston needs a link to the '04 magic, and badly. Roberts provides just that.
And that other team from the '04 World Series isn't doing too well, either. First Looper, now Ponson? Has Walt Jocketty jumped the shark?
-- Another thing: if Yankee fans think Damon will steal 40 bases a year like Chuck Knoblauch, well, they've got something else coming. He only stole 18 bases last year, his lowest output since '97. And with Damon's weak throwing arm, Shemp bobbling the balls in left and Sheffield getting a little closer to the big 4-0, the Yankees outfield will be a mess defensively. And, by the way, Mark Loretta has a better career OBP than Damon. But it still stinks too see him go.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
From the AP:
New York and the reliever reached a preliminary agreement Tuesday on a $2 million, one-year contract.
"I feel very happy with this contract," Dotel said. "This team has a lot of tradition, and it pleases me to know that they want me to pitch for them."
Dotel could earn $3 million more in performance bonuses based on games. His deal contains an additional $2.5 million in bonuses based on games finished, in case he is traded to another team.
He had 36 saves for Houston and Oakland in 2004 but struggled last season with Oakland, going 1-2 with seven saves and a 3.52 ERA before he went on the disabled list May 20. From April 30 to May 11, he blew four saves in five outings.
Dotel had reconstructive elbow surgery June 6 to repair a torn ligament. He hopes to be pitching by midseason.
"What I do know is that it's going to help me to go back to what I like and that is to be a closer," he said.
With the Yankees, he joins several newcomers in the bullpen: right-hander Kyle Farnsworth and left-handers Ron Villone and Mike Myers. New York has struggled to find middle-inning pitchers in recent years, and setup man Tom Gordon left to become the Philadelphia Phillies' closer.
Several teams had sought Dotel, including the crosstown Mets.
You kinda wonder how much of a role George has been playing this winter. Obviously, after Cashman decided to come back, I'm sure that George wanted to put him in charge for awhile, and maybe sweeten things for him. And so far, no Yankee youngsters have been traded yet (except for some no-name for Ron Villone). I do think Farnsworth was probably a George deal, though I wouldn't put it past Cashman, either. But otherwise, with Myers and Villone? Probably Cashman.
And as for Dotel, could this be George taking back control? Getting Dotel is a gamble: the guy could turn out to be another Lieber, or he could be another Wade Miller. But for $2 million, the Yanks have no problem with gambles. If George is really taking back control, we'll probably see an overpaid Johnny Damon in pinstripes soon.
-- As for Farnsworth, we've already discussed why this move is incredibly stupid, and Joel Sherman has a piece with further detail. Gotta love that opening line: REARRANGE the letters in Kyle Farnsworth's name and I believe you spell "Mark Wohlers" or "Jay Witasick."
-- I wouldn't be too upset if the Junkees got Julian Tavarez. The guy's got a temperment that would be a disaster in New York. Also, a look at his stats shows that his numbers were awful for years till he got to St. Louis. I think Dave Duncan has somewhat of a Leo Mazzone effect on pitchers, leading them to overacheive in St. Louis. It could also be the way LaRussa uses his pitchers. But in recent years, it seems like the Cardinals have always had one of the best bullpens in the league. So I think Tavarez would be another Jay Witasick in New York. I've got no problem with that.
I just don't get why the Cardinals decided on Looper instead on Tavarez. I'm sure pizzabagel and the other Met fans out there can explain. But again, you've gotta give the benefit of the doubt to Jocketty and LaRussa, who have done a helluva job in St. Louis.
-- I'm glad the Junkees didn't get Nomar, for one reason: if he would've gotten a big hit in a Yankees-Red Sox game, the papers would've gotten all horny over the guy getting back at his former team. I definitely don't need to see that.
-- By the way, if you want to hear about A-Schmuck and the World Baseball Classic, you'll have to go elsewhere. Honestly, I'm more interested in the NHL (and the MLS, while we're at it) than the WBC.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Pitching Judgment Has Been Spotty for the Yankees
JACK CHESBRO, Lefty Gomez, Herb Pennock, Waite Hoyt, Red Ruffing, Whitey Ford, Catfish Hunter and Phil Niekro are Hall of Famers who pitched for the Yankees. These players have also pitched for the Yankees: Hideki Irabu, Jeff Weaver, Kevin Brown, José Contreras, Javier Vazquez, Jon Lieber, David Wells, Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright.
In the latter group are pitchers the Yankees acquired in recent seasons in the belief that they would pitch productively but who in most instances did not, whom the Yankees mostly discarded and who, in some cases, have fared better elsewhere.
"I think you have to look at each pitcher on an individual basis," said Brian Cashman, the Yankees' general manager. "Guys like David Wells have done very well here. There are guys who have been very good elsewhere and have come here and done poorly. Some guys, like Shawn Chacon, have come here and pitched better. Guys like Jon Lieber were good before they came here, while they were here and after they left. Then there are guys we had big hopes for and had high expectations for, and they moved on and rebounded."
For the most part, though, the recruited pitchers have been major disappointments, beginning with Irabu, a Japanese import whose only lasting contribution to the Yankees was Jean Afterman, the team's assistant general manager, who previously worked with Irabu's agent.
Contreras, Weaver, Brown and Vazquez also turned out to be hugely disappointing. Pavano and Wright joined that group last season, though injuries clouded their status.
"I think if they're healthy, they'll contribute," Cashman said of Pavano and Wright, whom the Yankees signed as free agents. "You can certainly judge whether we should have signed Jaret with his injury history, but that's a different issue."
It nevertheless goes to the Yankees' judgment, which has not been very good with some of the other pitchers.
When they acquired Weaver in 2002, he had pitched for Detroit for three and a half seasons, and he had had three and a half losing seasons. The Yankees thought he would pitch more successfully for a better team, but he was only a .500 pitcher for them (12-12 in a season and a half) and didn't produce a winning record until this year with Los Angeles (14-11).
The Yankees traded Weaver to the Dodgers for Brown, who was five years into a seven-year contract and would be 39 years old in his first season with the Yankees. He spent 23 weeks of his 52-week tenure with the Yankees on the disabled list and had a 14-13 record. He had won at least 14 games in a season seven times in his career.
Contreras was a Cuban defector whose signing with the Yankees prompted Larry Lucchino, the Red Sox' chief executive, to call the Yankees the Evil Empire. Contreras, though, was no Darth Vader. When he struggled halfway through the 2004 season with a 5.64 earned run average, the Yankees traded him to the Chicago White Sox, who helped Contreras rediscover the talent that had made him a star in Cuba, and he helped them win the World Series this year.
He compiled a 15-7 record, won his last eight regular-season starts, then posted a 3-1 postseason record.
"Sometimes we might be too quick to judge because of the New York mentality; the patience level isn't there," Cashman said.
"Like with Jon Garland with the White Sox. He had a lot of potential and then last season he developed. Could a guy like that succeed here? We've been guilty of that. We've been guilty of pitchers' not handling the situation. Sometimes pitchers get hurt; sometimes guys have come here and thrived."
Vazquez did not thrive in New York. Instead, he was another of those the Yankees believed had pitched with mixed success for a losing team (Montreal) and would do better for them. One year after giving up three promising young players for him, the Yankees traded Vazquez to Arizona in the deal that brought Randy Johnson to the Bronx.
After pitching no better for the Diamondbacks than he did for the Yankees, Vazquez demanded a trade last month, and last week the Diamondbacks traded him to the White Sox.
"Vazquez was really streaky last season," Cashman said. "But his strikeout-to-walk ratio was tremendous. He still has ability. I think it was a very good move for the White Sox."
Lieber pitched well for the Yankees in 2004, especially down the stretch, but they miscalculated his market value as a free agent and lost him to Philadelphia, where he had a 17-13 record. The Yankees could have also signed Wells a year ago; he offered his services for a third term with them, but they passed.
"We wanted to get younger," Cashman said. (so you went and got Randy Johnson, right? -MO)
Instead of taking Wells, a 41-year-old pitcher who had compiled a 34-14 record in each of two previous two-year visits, the Yankees signed Pavano and Wright and watched as they pitched themselves onto the disabled list, each missing more than half the season.
Not all of the pitchers the Yankees have acquired have been bad. Johnson, Roger Clemens and Mike Mussina have won for them, but over all their record is not good.
Offering reasons for the failure of others, Cashman said: "Some could be New York-oriented, some maybe we were too quick to judge, some we made mistakes on our assessments. I think it's the whole rainbow."
Paul Gibson (6.23 ERA)
Billy Brewer (9.53 ERA)
Dale Polley (7.89 ERA)
'97-'02: The Stanton era (1)
'99 -- Allen Watson comes aboard (ex-Met, Queens native, what could be better!)
Tony (36.00 ERA) Fossas
'00 - One of my all-time faves, Randy Choate, comes along
Allen (10.23 ERA) Watson jumps the shark
Cups of coffee for Kiesler, Lilly, and Yarnall
'03 -Chris (better against righties) Hammond
Randy (7.36 ERA) Choate
'04 - Felix (6.28 ERA) Heredia
Gabe (8.27 ERA) White
Another favorite, C.J. Nitkowski
Donovan Osborne (more of a mop-up man, but still)
'05 -Mike (7.07) Stanton (II)
'06 - Mike Myers
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Here are the first few paragraphs:
Competitive balance in baseball is a sham.
It doesn't matter how the commissioner's office spins it, or if the Players Association continues to ignore it; the idea that major-league baseball's 30 teams begin each season on an even playing field is a joke.
Limited revenue sharing hasn't solved it. Neither has a payroll tax. And momentum for significant realignment is nonexistent.
So where is the hope in Tampa Bay?
Where is the hope in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Detroit and other communities with lower revenue streams?
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
"If Garciaparra decides he wants to play in New York, the Yankees almost certainly could afford him."
Um, when was the last time they couldn't afford somebody? This is the same team paying Kyle Farnsworth, a reliever with a 4.50 lifetime ERA, $6 million!
And while Kepner says that the Snorre and Damon haven't talked, Newsday says that Snorre did call Damon. Heck, Bubba Crosby has about as much of a chance at being Opening Day CF as Mike Lamb's chance at being 3B before the '04 season. Cashman may have a fetish for Crosby, but when George starts to panic, the Yanks will give Damon an offer he can't refuse.
UPDATE: The folks in Arizona are turning into the Mets, getting a bunch of ex-Yankees. First Vazquez, now El Duque. That organization has jumped the shark in a huge way since winning it all in '01. They gave up Schilling for the awful Casey Fossum, they lost 111 games in '04, there was the whole Wally Backman fiasco, and then they make a couple of "what the hell were they thinking?" moves in giving tons of cash to Glaus and Russ Ortiz.
And I know this isn't a "D-Backs Despiser" blog, but I can't help commenting on how stupid this trade is. They couldn't get anything better for Vazquez? Just a pitcher who's bound to go on the DL at some point during the year, and who simply might not have anything left in the tank? Okay, they got a couple of prospects, but who's to say they won't turn out to be a couple of Casey Fossums? Talk about a poorly-run team.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
In other developments, the Junkees say they plan on keeping Pavano. They probably should do what Boston did with Renteria and ship the guy back to the NL, but considering the Junkees have seven starters for next year, they can always throw Pavano into a mop-up role in case he stinks up the joint. And of course, the Yankees are no stranger to having overpaid stinkers in a mop-up role.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Thursday, December 08, 2005
DALLAS -- The New York Yankees traded Tony Womack to the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday, getting rid of the second baseman-turned-outfielder just one season after signing him.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
In the "Does This Make Him a True Yankee Now?" Dept.:
Agent Scott Shapiro refused to go into detail about his recent firing by Carl Pavano. Shapiro did say as long as Pavano pays him the commission during the next three years, there won't be any lawsuits.
It's believed Pavano let Shapiro go because the pitcher was told his contract was for four years and $40 million when it was actually $39.95 million.
And in the "They Can't Be Serious" Dept.:
Veteran reliever Jeff Nelson talked to Cashman about a possible third stint in the Yankees bullpen. Nelson is also interested in pitching for the Mets and Dodgers
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
The whole thing is a PR move. The only thing that gets George more horny than an ex-Met is an ex-Red Sox player. It used to be that the Yanks would only get the ex-Sox that were worth getting. The Junkees needed a 3B when they signed Boggs (which was a bit of a risk after he hit .259 in '92), and the move paid off. And when the Junkees got Clemens in '99, it made sense because the guy had just pitched incredibly well in his two years in Toronto. But now, with the rivalry so much hotter than it was back in those days, George has gone further, acquiring scrubs like Embree and Bellhorn.
Getting Nomar makes no sense. The guy's never gonna play shortstop, his natural position, with his old buddy Jeter out there. He played some third last year, but of course A-Schmuck is already there. So who knows how he'll do at the other positions? Can Nomar play CF? Can the guy even stay healthy anymore?
He might turn out to be a decent DH in the long run, but even then, that's a power position. And Nomar is more of an average hitter.
Ultimately, the Junkees would be better off signing a guy like Miguel Cairo for this kind of role, since at least he's proven he can do it well.
So maybe seeing all those Mets on the back page of the New York papers has gotten George a little jealous. And a little crazy too, apparently.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
You hear this in New York these days: The Mets now spend like the Yankees!
Really? On what planet?
The Mets, according to MLB, currently have around $110 million in committed salaries for next season. Yeah, they spend the way the Yankees did in the 2005 season if between now and Opening Day, Omar Minaya spends another $100 million.
The New York Yankees lost between $50 million and $85 million for the 2005 season, the New York Daily News reported Sunday.
Despite drawing more than four million fans, a payroll of $200 million plus an additional $110 million in revenue sharing and luxury taxes has left the Yankees in the red, according to the paper.
"Yes, even George has his limits," one source told the Daily News.
The paper also reports that the Yankees might have to open up their checkbooks even further if a consultant hired by MLB decides the team undervalued their television rights.
The Yankees currently charge the YES Network about $60 million a year to broadcast games, but if it's found to be undervalued, the Yankees will have to make up the difference by putting more money into the revenue-sharing fund, the paper reported.
"They're going to owe us money," one MLB source predicted to the paper.
The final numbers won't be crunched for a few months, but it's believed the final number will be roughly $80 million when all is tallied. According to Forbes magazine, the Yankees lost $37.1 million in 2004.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Let's see, Stinnett fits George's ex-Met fetish, but furthermore, gives the Junkees an excuse why RJ stunk last season - he didn't have a catcher he was comfortable with. Okay, let's see what the spin will be in 2006.... Either way, Stinnett won't hit a lick.
And Farnsworth is a guy who cannot be trusted in a big spot! Does anyone remember him blowing a 5-run lead in the NLDS? I do. Gives up a ton of homers, and will join the likes of Chris Hammond and Steve Karsay as relievers who couldn't get it done in the Big Apple.
And my favorite news item of the day is that Brian Giles is headed back to San Diego. He was the one guy I was afraid the Junkees would get, an on-base machine, and now that he's off the market, it's Johnny Damon, Juan Pierre, Jason Michaels, or some other scrub.
Looking at the starting staff, you have an older Randy Johnson, an unreliable Mike Mussina, two guys you don't know what you're going to get in Carl Panavo and Jaret Wright, and one-year wonders Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon. They're not pursuing anyone good, and if you look at their lineup, sure A-Schmuck and Sheffield are good, and Jeter and Shemp are reliable, but everyone else is a question mark. Giambi? Posada? Cano?
I like what I'm seeing, so this is the best offseason for a Yankee Despiser since 1989, when Steve Sax was the big acquisition.